CAD Manager Survey Preview

21 Aug, 2007 By: Robert Green

What are your colleagues dealing with, complaining about, and getting paid?

It’s that time of year again, when my annual CAD Manager Survey is unleashed to provide valuable data on what CAD managers are up to, their problems, and, of course, their compensation. The CAD Manager Survey dates back to fall 2000, allowing me to not only measure current trends but make conclusions based on trends over time. My hope is that I can deliver valuable information to you and become better informed about the market, thereby providing better newsletters and articles for the CAD management community.

In this issue of CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I want to share the survey topics I’m planning to measure this year and ask for your feedback regarding anything you think I’ve missed. So do yourself and the entire CAD management community a small favor, and read through the preview section below. Let me know your suggestions for making the survey better by emailing me at the link provided at the end of this preview. Here goes.

We all want to know how much we should be making, so the primary focus of the survey always has been compensation. Measuring compensation includes a lot of factors though, so the palette of questions required to get a complete picture has grown to include the following:

  • What is your total base pay in U.S. dollars?
  • Are you salaried or hourly?
  • If hourly, do you receive overtime pay?
  • How many hours per week do you normally work?
  • Do you receive profit sharing?
  • Do you receive an annual bonus?
  • Do you receive company-paid health insurance (United States only)?

These questions allow me to compute base compensation and draw workforce trends on methods of compensation and company-provided benefits to get a total compensation picture for everyone whether they are paid hourly or salaried.

Geography and Demographics
I’ve learned that compensation is a function of location and have received a lot of questions from CAD managers about how they can determine a prospective salary based on the cost of living in their area. There’s also a growing international readership of CAD Manager’s Newsletter, so I need to look at international compensation as well.

Finally, the industry you work in also plays a significant role in your compensation. So I need to include some questions about the kind of company you work for. To measure these factors, I’ll ask the following:

  • What country do you work in?
  • Are you from a big city, small city, rural area, or industrial area?
  • What industry do you work in?
  • Are you a prime or subcontractor?
  • Does your company operate internationally?

In this year’s survey I intend to analyze compensation with a cross-reference to geographic location and industry type, so CAD managers can get a better idea of what they should be making given their particular circumstances.

Job Parameters
Of course, I want to know all about full-time, part-time, and managerial conditions CAD managers work in. I plan to ask the following:

  • Are you a full-time CAD manager?
  • If part time, how much time per week do you CAD manage?
  • Do you feel pressure to be “billable” while you CAD manage?
  • Do you feel supported by your senior management team?
  • What department do you report to (engineering, IT, architecture, etc.)?

Additional questions for part-time CAD managers include these:

  • Do you think your company needs a full-time CAD manager?
  • Is CAD management a recognized part of your job?
  • Are your opinions on CAD issues respected?
  • Do you want to become a full-time CAD manager?

CAD Standards
CAD standards are always a topic of vigorous discussion. Based on my experience, I believe that enforcement and management support are the most problematic part of standards, so I want to be sure I measure CAD managers’ level of problems in these key areas. I plan to ask the following questions:

  • Are you responsible for writing CAD standards?
  • Are you responsible for enforcing CAD standards?
  • Do your users see the need for CAD standards?
  • Does your senior management see the need for CAD standards?
  • Does your senior management help you enforce CAD standards?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how hard is it to enforce CAD standards (1 is easy, 10 is impossible)?

Obviously it is much harder to manage the CAD environment if you don’t have the authority to do so. I’ve had a lot of CAD managers say they have a lot of responsibility with no authority, so I want to actually measure the level of authority we have. I plan to ask the following:

  • Do you specify hardware/software for purchase?
  • Do you specify your company’s CAD budget?
  • Do you have “signature authority” to purchase items without approval?
  • Do you participate in staff hiring?
  • Can you fire staff?
  • Can you discipline staff?

Many CAD managers have training responsibility but no clear methodology for getting training results. I therefore want to measure how CAD managers are using new training technologies, whether they’re using outside resources, and generally how users are participating in the training process. Here are the training questions I plan to ask:

Do you have a training budget?

  • How many hours of training do your users receive per year?
  • Do you perform some or all of your own training?
  • Do you use outside resources to help you train?
  • What methods of in-house training do you use?
  • Do you write your own training materials?
  • Do you use audio/video for training?

My goals here will be to understand how training is approached and how much training is really going on.

Software/Hardware Environment
Here’s where I address the nuts and bolts of CAD management: software, hardware, user counts, and technology platforms. I plan to ask the following questions:

  • How many CAD machines do you manage?
  • How many CAD users do you support?
  • Do you specify hardware or does IT?
  • Do you maintain hardware or does IT?
  • What’s your main CAD software?
  • What other software packages do you manage?
  • Is your company totally 3D, totally 2D, or a mix?
  • If a mix, what percentage of 3D users do you have?
  • Do you customize your CAD systems?
  • Can you program in AutoLISP?
  • Can you program in VBA?
  • Can you program in Visual Basic?
  • Can you program in .NET?

I’m especially interested in how the programming and IT questions will be answered this year, given strong upward trending in the past few surveys.

 Summing Up
What do you think? Do you see anything I’ve missed? If so, please email me ASAP so I can include your feedback in the final survey formulation. You can reach me via my email link at

In the next edition of CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I’ll unveil the actual survey so you can participate and also kick off a short series on learning resources for CAD managers. Until then.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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